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Bridging the potato variety gap: a review of the Kenya - The Netherlands potato project (2012–2015): its success, challenges and opportunities

Simeon K. Komen / John Mark Ngeny / Emily Osena
Published Online: 2017-06-30 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opag-2017-0030


Potato is Kenya’s second most important staple crop which contributes immensely to the food security and income of smallholder farmers in the Kenya Highlands. Despite its importance however, crop yields are very low (7.7 to 9.5 t/ha) against a potential of over 40 t/ha. Many reasons are cited to explain this including inadequate good quality seed of suitable varieties, seed recycling, low soil fertility, limited use of agro-chemicals and leaf diseases. Potatoes were introduced in the late 19th Century from Britain and later Germany. During the 1980’s several Dutch varieties were brought in for evaluation but the process could not be completed as the test sites were allocated to other uses. This review highlights progress made with new varieties in terms of evaluation, registration and the associated technology identifies challenges and solutions. Until 2012 only 15 varieties had been in commercial use, mostly originating from temperate countries with a few local releases in collaboration with the International potato center (CIP). With increased demand for processed potato products driven by the urban middle -income population, and its preference for fast foods, there was need for high yielding varieties. Since 2012 over 100 Dutch and local varieties have been evaluated under conventional performance trials at seven locations spread across different potato-growing counties. Normal agronomic practices were followed and several yield parameters were measured. Several high-potential Dutch varieties failed due to their susceptibility to low management practices. From these, 33 varieties have been released from seven Dutch companies and local breeders and two parallel evaluation procedures have been conducted since 2013 one conventional and one intensive. Consequently, 44% and 56% of the released varieties came through conventional and intensive channels respectively. In terms of usage, those released consist of 61% for table use and 39% for processing. Mean tuber yields of controls under conventional and intensive evaluations when compared, indicates 191% increase. Accelerated availability of superior varieties can be achieved through collaborations with countries with well-developed potato value chain. Local varieties under good management can increase tuber yield substantially.

Keywords : Variety introduction; market niche; variety evaluation; intensive management; accelerated availability


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About the article

Received: 2016-11-02

Accepted: 2017-04-20

Published Online: 2017-06-30

Published in Print: 2017-02-23

Citation Information: Open Agriculture, Volume 2, Issue 1, Pages 267–273, ISSN (Online) 2391-9531, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opag-2017-0030.

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© 2017. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

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